By Samantha L. Quigley
WASHINGTON, Aug. 24, 2006 – San Diego will honor its military heritage with a Freedom Walk planned to coincide with the fifth anniversary of the 2001 terrorist attacks.
"The walk begins and ends at the Veterans Museum and Memorial Center," said Beth Steinke, president of Operation Homefront-San Diego, the nonprofit group organizing the walk. "It's a leisurely two-mile stroll through the park." The walk, presented by DefenseWeb, a software company, will begin with opening ceremonies at 9 a.m. in Balboa Park, she said. A color guard and a chaplain are scheduled to participate in the opening ceremonies. "We're hoping to have some VIPs there with some very short comments from them," she said.
Walkers are free to drop in any time their schedule allows until the walk officially ends at 1 p.m., she added. "It's just a great time to come out and honor the servicemembers past and present ... and those who lost their lives on Sept. 11 (2001)," Steinke said. "I just think that it's really important, as individuals ... as a community and as a country, to remember that we must always be vigilant and we should always be connected to each other."
Similar Freedom Walks are scheduled around the country to remember those who lost their lives on Sept. 11 and to honor America's military veterans, past and present. The local events around the country parallel the Washington, D.C., Freedom Walk scheduled Sept. 10 and sponsored by the Defense Department's America Supports You program. America Supports You spotlights ways the American people and the nation's corporate sector support U.S. servicemembers.
The Pentagon sponsored the first America Supports You Freedom Walk, in the Washington, D.C., area, in 2005. Local chapters of Operation Homefront, an America Supports You member, are organizing several of the walks around the country. With several military facilities in the area, Steinke said it was natural for San Diego to hold a Freedom Walk.
"San Diego is an amazing community-oriented city, and they're very, very proud of their military," she said. "It would be a crime for San Diego not to have a great and successful Freedom Walk, because this city loves its military." Walkers are encouraged to pre-register for the walk, and can do so on the Operation Homefront-San Diego Web site. Information for people interested in organizing Freedom Walk observances in their communities is available at the America Supports You Freedom Walk Web site.